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News: A chamber of heightened interest elects first female president

Mesenbet Shenkute is the first female president of one of the oldest chambers in Africa which has more than 16,000 members

Yared Tsegaye

Addis Abeba, Oct. 26/2018 – Mesenbet Shenkute, former Vice President to the State Bank, Development Bank of Ethiopia (DBE), and president of Abay Bank, one of the late entrants of private banks in Ethiopia, has become the first female president of the Addis Ababa Chamber of Commerce and Sectoral Association (AACCSA), which she served as a board of directors for two years. The wife of the well known historian Bahiru Zewde (Prof), Mesenbet owns a private consultancy firm, news Dimension Consultancy Plc., and is a board member of the Ethiopian Space Science Society.  In an election held yesterday, 25 October, at the Intercontinental Addis Hotel, Mesenbet won AACCSA’s presidency and took over the position from the outgoing president Elias Geneti, 54, who ran the Chamber for the past four years.

The chamber, in its 14th General Assembly, has attracted 1050 ( one thousand fifty) voting cards to fill the three boxes set: the presidency (which had two nominees); the vice president; and 15 nominees for the board of directors. A total of 173 voting cards were sent in blank while 227 other votes were returned with unclear references, which led to the votes being disqualified.

Mesenbet won the election after receiving 419 of the votes cast, which has won her the presidency against her running-mate, Selahedin Kelifa, owner and manager of the Kadisco Business Group and president of Ethiopian Freight Forwarders & Shipping Agents Association. Selahedin received 276 votes.

This is the first time the 71 years old chamber has elected a female president. “We shall be a competitive chamber like chambers of other countries; competitive, strong and responsive to the private sector and the business community,” Mesenbet said after her victories election. Abebaw Mekonen, who ran for the second term for the position of vice president secured 595 votes and retained his position as vice president.

Netsanet Lemessa, the serving CEO of the state-owned Ethiopian Insurance Corporation (EIC); Kibret Abebe, owner of Tebita Ambulance; Tesfaye Negash, owner of the Magic Laundry Plc. and President of St.George Football Club Fans’ Association were among the new faces to join the chamber’s board of directors, constituting a total of nine- members. Kumneger Teketel, owner of Ozzie Hospitality and Management Consultancy had lost the race to be one among the board.

This is not the first time the election for AACCSA’s presidency was marked by heightened interest for the position of the presidency. The election in 2014 during AACCSA’s ninth assembly has ended up in a court in Addis Abeba. The case dragged to the point of requiring an intervention from the Ministry of Trade (MoT) and the Addis Abeba City Administration Trade & Industry Development Bureau, which formed a board of trustee to resolve the case. Eventually AACCSA settled the issue by re-electing Elias Geneti as president and nine members to its board of directors during its tenth general assembly held on March 19, 2015. It was then that Mesenbet Shenkute had appeared as a new face in the board of directors.


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Outgoing President of AACCSA Elias and his incoming replacement Mesenbet exchanging pleasantries

Speaking to Addis Standard, AACCSA’s outgoing president Elias Geneti said: “This is my time to rest. I am confident enough to say that I have led a chamber, which has brought robust and tangible achievements within the private business sector and its stakeholders as well as winning a good image for itself, as a president.”

Elias,who owns Olira Agro-Industry Plc and Agro Prom International Plc., companies in agricultural manufacturing sector, is also involved in the export of roasted coffee and has been board chairperson of the Oromia Insurance Company( OIC) since 2014.

“I have done the best to give the chamber the shape it never has four years ago; the voice and power it lacked and above all, the active participation and positive influence of the business community it holds within,” Elias said while mentioning the Share Sale of the Addis-Africa International Convention and Exhibition Center S.C., expansion projects of the Addis Abeba Exhibition Center and the cornerstone to build a 22-storey headquarter at a 3000sqm place around Megenagna area as some of the major milestones undertaken by AACCSA during his presidency. “The chamber’s meeting would have never drawn such a big number of participants, and such a democratic election [would remain] a dream had it been before my administration.”

Leading associations in the private sector, the AACCSA, one of the oldest chambers in Africa, has more than 16,000 members. AS


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